Why You Should Soak Beans in a Salt and Baking Soda Brine Before Cooking

From wide and flat broad beans to small, winding focus, the world of beans is wide. Bean variations vary in shape and color, but it is also clear that different types of beans have different cooking times and methods. Some beans cook faster and become softer and creamier in a relatively short time, while others take years to cook and may benefit from pre-soaking in water.

This article focuses on the long-standing questions about soaking beans in salt water before cooking and how changing that salt water affects the cooking time and quality of the beans that are ultimately cooked. increase. Specifically, I was interested in how adding baking soda to salt water of beans would affect the texture and cooking time of cooking.

Pectin: Or why dried beans tend to soften during cooking

All plant cells contain pectin. Pectin is an important part of lamella, a cement or glue that holds cells together. Pectin, along with other carbohydrates such as cellulose, hemicellulose, and lignin, helps plant cells maintain their physical structure. These indigestible carbohydrates are what we mean by what we call “dietary fiber.” The characteristic hardness of vegetables such as potatoes and yams in Africa is directly related to the presence of large amounts of pectin.

To turn hard, dry beans into soft, creamy, easy-to-eat beans, the beans must first absorb moisture and then heat to change the physical structure of the beans. Bean seed coat is the first obstacle. Water must first penetrate the seed coat before the inside of the beans absorbs the water and begins to cook. This is why shelled beans like Vigna mungoles can be cooked in a much shorter time. We have seen reports that removing the seed coat reduces the cooking time of beans by up to 40%.

When water penetrates the seed coat and heat is applied, the pectin inside begins to deform. When pectin heats up, it changes from a hard, insoluble substance that holds cells together to a soft, water-soluble substance. As the pectin between the cells softens and dissolves in water, the cells begin to fall apart. When structural integrity is lost, cooked beans become soft and creamy.

Why some beans are so hard and hard

Debbie Wee

However, I found some beans that everyone cooked that seemed to refuse to soften. There are several reasons for this phenomenon. Bean hardness is a hot topic in bean science, especially the phenomenon of HTC beans. Many bean scientists classify beans as either easy to cook (ETC) or difficult to cook (HTC). HTC beans do not soften after cooking because the pectin remains insoluble (although starch cannot be properly gelatinized). HTC beans are often the result of long storage times and / or storage in high humidity or high temperature conditions. However, sprinkling salt water before cooking the HTC beans will speed up cooking and improve the final texture. In addition, the availability of nutrients increases.

Hardening of bean pectin occurs mainly due to two enzymatic reactions. An enzyme called phytase releases calcium and magnesium ions from the lamella, which quickly encounter and attach to pectin molecules, eventually strengthening pectin. A second enzyme called pectinesterase also modifies pectin, further increasing its resistance to lysis. The chemistry of pectin is very complex, but for our purposes the first enzymatic reaction is what I want to focus on.

Calcium and magnesium are partially involved in the hardening of bean pectin, so if there is a way to pop them out, it will destabilize the pectin and destabilize the integrity of the beans, softening and completely with short cooking. Time I thought it could be softened. And, of course, the reason I focused on this element of bean hardness is that there is an easy way to get rid of those ions from pectin.

Once you’ve cleaned the discolored silver or copper utensils, simply drop them in a pot of salt and baking soda to re-gloss. The way this works is that as the metal reacts with the chemicals present in the air, the silver and copper instruments oxidize over time to develop patina. When the discolored instrument is treated with salt and baking soda, the sodium ions present in the solution replace the discolored silver, restore the metal to its original state, and the instrument becomes shiny again. This reaction is called the substitution reaction.

The sodium present in the salt (sodium chloride) and baking soda (baking soda) carries out a substitution reaction similar to the calcium and magnesium ions present in the bean pectin. As soon as they come in contact, sodium is used instead of calcium and magnesium, which makes pectin more soluble.

Therefore, before cooking, the beans can be soaked in salt water made of salt or baking soda. In addition, the beans can be boiled in salt water or water with a little baking soda, depending on the texture required for cooking. Brine provides an excess environment for sodium and helps advance this conversion.

Testing Beans Brining Solutions

To test the hypothesis that sodium affects pectin and, as a result, the hardness and cooking of beans, several brining experiments were performed using different types of sodium salts. To see how different beans work under these different conditions, I limited them to black beans and common beans. Black beans have a thin skin and are easy to cook, so they don’t need to be salted before cooking, but I thought they would help compare the performance of green beans and experiments.

Experiment setup

We set up three groups for each type to evaluate the beans. Water, salt water (15 g per 1 L), baking soda (5 g per 1 L). The amount of salt used in these experiments was determined by Kenji’s previous serious dietary studies. Food Research International.. To see how the beans work in salt water with a combination of baking soda and salt, another group in the experiment, salt and salt water with baking soda (15g salt with 5g baking soda in 1L of water) Added.

To monitor the performance of the beans, we measured the total dry weight of the beans and measured both the raw weight and the cooked wet weight after 24 hours. To give each bean a chance to start under similar conditions, I removed all beans that showed cracks or skin damage. To avoid interference from possible salts in tap water (hard water is high in calcium and magnesium, but given the amount of sodium in the brine, the effect should be negligible). I used filtered water for the brine. The beans were soaked at room temperature.

Both raw and cooked beans were gently rinsed with water, placed on a dry portion of an absorbent paper towel for 1 minute, then weighed to remove excess water and gave more consistent measurements.

The soaked beans were rinsed to remove any traces of salt and cooked in regular filtered water until tender. The endpoint for cooking beans was subjective. I decided how well the beans were made by pressing them to see if they were much softer.


Baking soda brine seemed to do a much better job than baking soda-free brine, based on weight changes in both uncooked and cooked black bean samples.

Common beans seemed to have a slightly different effect of brine when compared to the black bean test, but like black beans, they seemed to brine well with baking soda, and the combination of salt and baking soda was much better in terms of. The result is weight gain.

The ideal way to determine and compare cooking times is to pull the beans out when they reach a particular endpoint determined by either texture or time. However, both are a bit difficult to judge in my home kitchen. Instead, I decided, based on my own judgment, when the beans would soften and easily crack with a knife without undue pressure.

Salt and baking soda salt water gave the best results for both types of beans. The average cooking time for black beans was 30 minutes. The average bean was close to 40 minutes. Of course, these are subjective measurements and are based on my opinion that they are a cooked texture suitable for beans, so take these findings with salt grains (puns). Not intended).

Effect of Brin Sodium on Beans
Raw beans Boiled beans Boiled beans
Black bean % Total weight gain % Total weight gain Texture (creaminess)
water 145.20 150.72 + +
salt 137.51 158.05 ++
baking soda 142.61 161.72 +++
Salt + baking soda 107.72 108.60 ++++
Green beans % Total weight gain % Total weight gain Texture (creaminess)
water 133.58 127.60 + +
salt 122.52 113.16 ++
baking soda 130.17 117.11 +++
Salt + baking soda 160.08 117.46 ++++
Both weight changes in the total amount of soaked beans were measured and compared to the starting dry weight of the beans. Subjective observations about texture were also reported.

Beans soaked in salt or baking soda salt water performed much better than beans soaked in water alone. Beans soaked in salt water with baking soda performed better than beans soaked in salt water. This was true regardless of the type of beans. As for the difference in cooking time, as expected, black beans were cooked faster than common beans. When I asked a few people about the difference in texture, it was said that beans salted with salt or baking soda were creamier than beans soaked in ordinary water, and beans soaked in baking soda were smooth and creamy. I was told. Texture is better than salted in salt water.

If you take a closer look at the number of common beans, you can see that the rate of increase in total body weight after cooking seems to be low. Comparing this same observation with black beans shows how these beans differ from each other. Black beans increase in weight when cooked.

The explanation for this discrepancy is, I think, relatively simple. Dried beans absorb moisture during brining, resulting in increased weight. This can be confirmed in the results. However, when cooked in water, the beans will continue to swell, but some carbohydrates such as starch and pectin will begin to seep into the cooking water, requiring some weight loss. Be expected. Based on my results, common beans appear to lose weight due to increased solubilization of these various substances. This is followed up with other more formal analyzes to see how the salt solution solubilizes the pectins and minerals present inside the beans (such as this).

Result: Should you salt your beans?

Debbie Wee

Obviously, using a brining solution containing an excess of sodium product by adding both salt and baking soda gave the best results in texture and significantly reduced the cooking time for both black beans and common beans. rice field. For kidney beans and other difficult-to-cook beans, it is highly recommended to brin them with a solution of salt and baking soda. Would you like to sprinkle salt water on the black beans in the future? To be honest, my answer depends on time. If I’m a better planner and want to cook black beans the next day, I’ll probably rely on brining them, but if I want to cook them that day, I won’t.

One way to quickly cook beans not covered in this article is to use a pressure cooker to apply high pressure. I grew up in India. In India, pressure cookers are the flagship product of many kitchens. Both high pressure and brining reduce cooking time and improve the texture of beans. If the beans are salted and cooked in a pressure cooker, it is advisable to reduce the soaking time or the amount of salt and baking soda. Otherwise, the beans will be very muddy (unless they have the required texture).

Still not convinced? Check out the recipe for steamed pork and beans. The results of this experiment are used to make folk tender pork and some of the creamiest beans I have ever eaten.

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